Hong Kong Beat Raising Awareness About Our Home On Earth Day 2022

Many artists have written songs about how wonderful our planet is, many have written about the dangers it faces from human action and conflicts.

Again this year, Hong Kong Beat presents a collection of songs about our home hoping that these messages will reach out.

Hong Kong Beat’s homage to the humble cowbell

“I’ve got a fever and the only prescription is more cowbell!”

In uttering that line during the April 8 2000 epic Saturday Night Live sketch featuring Will Ferrell’s fictional take on the recording of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, Christopher Walken set in motion a super-meme that has been used in everything from TV shows and movies, animation films, charity events, to online games. Its use has become so widespread that Walken has bemoaned audiences shouting out “needs more cowbell” during his stage shows, and Ferrell has commented that he thinks it has probably ruined Walken’s life. Blue Oyster Cult also weighed in saying that they loved the skit and it has probably lessened the eerie nature of the original track.

According to Ferrell the skit was inspired when, hearing the cowbell played during the song, he wondered “what kind of life does that person have?”. Despite the widespread popularity of the meme, the song in fact has a very muted use of the instrument that was almost a staple of rock music in the 70s. Even the band members were unhappy with its use, with drummer Albert Bouchard – who, despite contrary claims, was the cowbell player – saying that they thought it sounded “like crap” and, in a similarity to the skit, it was their producer – David Lucas, not the skit’s ‘The Bruce Dickinson’ – who insisted on including it. It was kept in only after heavy modification with tape and being played with a timpani mallet to deaden the sound so it actually sounds more like a wood block than a cowbell. To me that adds to the humour as it parodies the prominent use of the percussion instrument in so many other songs of the time, and since.

So in homage to the SNL skit, the meme and BOC’s genre defining song, Hong Kong Beat offers this set for rockers who have the fever!

RIP Taylor Hawkins, a tribute by Hong Kong Beat

Sadly the World has said farewell to another leading musician at a too early age, Taylor Hawkins of the band Foo Fighters. As the band’s drummer since 1997, Hawkins was more than just the man driving the rhythm, he was as much the spirit and soul of the band as its founder and former Nirvana drummer, Dave Grohl.

Among the post-grunge parody of itself that a lot of rock music had become during the latter half of the 90s, the Foos were one of the handful of bands that stood out and shaped a sound that was both new and fresh as well as a throwback to the hard rockers of the 70s and 80s, Hawkins being a key component to that sound offering backing vocals and of course meaty beaty big and bouncy fills that challenge you to jump out of your seat and kick out the jams.

Always one to acknowledge his influences both in drumming and performance style, he pointed to a handful of drumming greats in various interviews. From 60s icon Ringo Starr to punk and new wave giant Budgie (Pete Clarke), there were many notable influences including Alex Van Halen who he covered at a school concert performing ‘Panama’; the late Neal Peart of Rush who Hawkins acknowledged had ‘provided’ him with some of his favourite ‘borrowed’ beats; Steve Perkins of Jane’s Addiction who, along with the stage intensity of Police’s Stewart Copeland and inventiveness of Phil Collins, had greatly influenced his performance style; and last, but not least, Roger Taylor of Queen who he described as “so visual, the ultimate in cool and collected”. After watching Queen at the age of 10, Hawkins realised that this was exactly what he wanted to do with his life. In one interview he recounted how the Foos were listening to Queen and David Bowie’s ‘Under Pressure’ on the car radio when Dave Grohl just turned around and said with a laugh, “Why are we even trying?“ While the final version of ‘Under Pressure’ was an organic collaboration between the band members and Bowie, it was based on a Roger Taylor composition ‘Feel Like’.

So, as tribute to Taylor Hawkins, Hong Kong Beat offers this collection of tunes by his influences alongside some of his own best.

RIP Taylor Hawkins, you will be missed.

Hong Kong Beat Celebrates St Andrew’s Day with some modern ditties by Scottish lads and lassies

Scottish music isn’t all about wailing bag pipes, reels and hairy folk singers, there’s also a great wealth of pop and rock music by many artists from the country.

Hong Kong Beat would like to help Scots men and women the World over celebrates St Andrews Day 2021 with an hour of contemporary songs from the past 40 years by some of the best artists the country has produced.

Arrr! Talk Like a Pirate! Hong Kong Beat shivers the timbers for International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Avast landlubbers! Gather’round n lissen ee t’tales n’ shanties o derrin do, treasure n mutiny, as ye swig yer ale n’ rum, dreamin’ o’ sailin’ t’riches with Cap’n Morgan or the dreaded Blackbeard.

Started as an in-joke back in 1995, Talk Like a Pirate Day has become an international parody celebration, one that hasn’t been shanghaid by Hallmark, where adherents growl arrr at people they call matey and threaten to keelhaul any scurvy dog who dares to cross them, like pinching their parking space.

There’s a curious romance and escapism about the days of piracy – though the reality of a pirate’s life, fortunes and comeuppance was very different to the dreams of treasure, grog and a wench in every port. It’s like wanting to run away to the circus, but for jack-the-lads (and lasses) with a more adventurous and maybe blacker heart.

One thing everybody knows about life at sea are the shanties that were devised by sailors to help them through their backbreaking work or escape the hardships of life for a while in the tavern, so it’s no surprise that from a wealth of traditional music about life at sea there’s a lot of contemporary music and, given the nature of pirates, much of it adopts the a rakish and rebellious strains of heavy metal and punk.

N be warrrnd. ‘Tis not an Arrr-rated set o’ shanties!

Hong Kong Beat mobile disco Towel Day tribute to Douglas Adams

Douglas Adams was a genius as a writer and as an articulator of human absurdity.

His trilogy of 6 books in the HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy series started out as a BBC radio show, and spawned TV series, stage plays, vinyl releases, a movie, games, comics, and a fan base of tens of millions around the World. His writing gave us catchphrases like ‘Don’t Panic’, popular culture memes and characters, as well as the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything… 42.

He even wrote for Doctor Who and Monty Python, as well as appearing in a Python sketch.

A lover of progressive rock, especially Pink Floyd, he was also an accomplished guitarist and on his 42nd birthday, his friend David Gilmour got him to perform on stage with them, perhaps the only known performance of HHGG band Disaster Area! Adams did release a single in the name of the band as a B side to the HitchHiker’s Guide to the Galaxy TV theme. Adams said that Pink Floyd’s lavish stage productions were the inspiration for Disaster Area – “claimed to be the loudest band in the universe, and in fact the loudest sound of any kind, anywhere. So loud is this band that the audience usually listens from the safe distance of thirty seven miles away in a well-built concrete bunker. Disaster Area’s lavish performances went so far as to crash a space ship into the sun to create a solar flare.

Disaster Area star and keyboardist – Hotblack Desiato – was spending a year dead for tax reasons in the book, no doubt a spoof on many tax exile musicians and actors in UK at the time, including members of Pink Floyd.

Sadly, Adams died from a heart attack aged 49 in 2001, but his legacy has inspired many bands in name and music style,just as he was inspired by bands of his time.

Finally, always know where your towel is.

The First Swing of the Axe – Hong Kong Beat selects favourite iconic rock songs

A single spotlight… A lone guitarist… The opening chord of a classic rock song… The crowd is instantly on its feet in recognition…

So many of the great rock songs start with an iconic guitar opening with nothing else except perhaps a lone cowbell or muted snare to accompany the guitarist, hunched in concentration over his guitar, lit by a sole spotlight… Perhaps it’s a driving riff or maybe just a sustained single note, maybe a big crashing sweep or an intricate pick, or an accident like Lennon’s feedback on I Feel Fine…

We all know our favourites. Instant recognition of the art of the lone axe man… and pure inspiration for the air-guitar heroes 😀

Hong Kong Beat presents just a few of our favourites in this 2 hour salute to the First Swing of the Axe.

Hong Kong Beat tripping with the Summer of Love at Woodstock 50 years on!

1969, The Summer of Love and Woodstock, 50 years on. Wow!

In this blogcast, Hong Kong Beat brings you a selection of tracks from the band set lists, in appearance order, from the three days of music and a dawning of a new age that, even though it wasn’t the biggest, best, or even the first music festival of its kind, it set down a marker in modern history of music and human culture.

At 14, it marked something in my life too, when on 15 August 1969 in UK, a friend of mine said he wanted to hitchhike there and I asked him how he hoped to get there in time and over the ocean. “Don’t be daft” he said, or something similar, “it’s at Woodstock, over near Oxford” (about 20 miles away from where we lived) – so, I learned that some people are dimmer than a burned out light bulb!

While it was all a bit mysterious to me at the time, it sent messages about music and its power to move people, something that struck a note with me as I had just had my first DJing experience a few months before, which led to my first kiss!

Peace out ✌️

Hong Kong Beat wedding and events DJ wishes all a Happy Year of The Dog!

February 2018 marks the start year of the Earth Dog in the Chinese almanac bringing with it masculine energy, an outgoing and fun-loving vibe, and maybe even getting a little reckless…

So what better way to celebrate such a year with Hong Kong Beat than a mix of some heavy rocking and belting tunes about dogs, and well, their canine cousins.

Kung Hei Fat Choy, and wishing all a healthy, prosperous and successful Year of the Dog!

2016 In Requiem – Hong Kong Beat mobile disco’s tribute to those lost to the World of pop music

To many people, 2016 seemed to be a year that was relentless in seeing the deaths of so many icons of popular music and the arts. To be fair, it wasn’t the fault of the year, but simply that pop culture has been booming since the spread of the radio, then TV and, more recently, the Internet and social media; so that many of the icons of that boom have reached ages where there can be a fair expectation of old age or even premature deaths, especially given the lifestyles of some in those years.

Still, the passing of such icons as Bowie; Prince; the tragic deaths of indie rock band Viola Beach, some still in their teens; as well as some hugely influential promoters of the pop music World; have left us heading into 2017 with fingers crossed that it will be a kinder year.

The list below is long, and the roll call of those departed is noted under the track titles of this all-too-long sound track.

RIP so many talents, jam on…

NOTE – Songs in the set by Madonna, Manu Dibango and Ultravox represent other persons, as noted in the track list and below.

Keith Emerson 71 – pioneering innovative keyboardist with progressive rock giants ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’.
Marni Nixon 86 – the ‘greatest ghost singer’ frequently dubbed as the singing voice for the likes of Marilyn Monroe, Deborah Kerr, Natalie Wood, Sophia Loren and Audrey Hepburn in many of the most famous musicals.
Leandro Gato Barbieri 83 – Argentine jazz musician and songwriter. Best known to many for the soundtrack to ‘Last Tango In Paris’.
Papa Wemba 66 – pioneer in blending African music with jazz and rock styles.
Henry McCullough 72 – musician and guitarist with ‘Paul McCartney’s Wings’.
Dale Griffin 67 – drummer for glam rock band ‘Mott The Hoople’.
Rick Parfitt 68 – The Wild Old Man Of Rock & Roll and ‘the Quo’ in ‘Status Quo’.
Jimmy Bain 68 – bass guitarist of rock bands ‘Rainbow’, ‘Thin Lizzy’ and ‘Dio’.
Matt Roberts 38 – Indie rock band ‘3 Doors Down’ founding member and guitarist.
Tom Searle 28 – songwriter and guitarist for  British metalcore band ‘Architects’.
Kris Leonard 20, River Reeves 19, Tomas Lowe 27, Jack Dakin 19 – all members of  indie band ‘Viola Beach’, tragically killed together in a car accident at the start of a promising career.
Paul Kantner 74 – co-founder of 60s psychedelic rock pioneers ‘Jefferson Airplane’ and later ‘Jefferson Airship’.
Signe Tole Anderson 74 – the original female vocalist for ‘Jefferson Airplane’.
John Berry 52 – original member and inventor of the band name for ‘Beastie Boys’.
Glenn Frey 67 – co-founder of ‘The Eagles’ and writer of many of their hits, as well a successful solo career.
Prince 57.
Robert Stigwood 81 – manager, producer and promoter of many era defining artists such as Cream, Eric Clapton, and Bee Gees; producer of culture defining movies Saturday Night fever and Grease, as well as a string of hit stage rock musicals, including Jesus Christ Superstar, Hair and Evita. Founder of the Robert Stigwood Organisation (RSO) entertainment empire.
Pete Burns 57 – lead singer of 80s new-wave band ‘Dead or Alive’.
Phife Dawg 45 – rapper and co-founder of hip-hop band ‘A Tribe Called Quest’.
Billy Paul 80 – pioneer soulful singer of modern R&B.
George Michael 53 – iconic and prolific singer of  80s and 90s pop music culture as part of ‘Wham’ and later as as a solo artist.
Bernie Worrell 72 – The Wizard of Woo, acclaimed keyboard wizard with the ‘Parliament-Funakdelic’ empire.
David Bowie 66.
Vanity (Denise Matthews) 57 – Canadian dancer, and as part of ‘Vanity 6’, disco-funk music protege of Prince.
Colonel Abrams 67 – 80s and 90s R&B and disco hit artist.
David Mancuso 72 – DJ and dance culture pioneer, founder of the New York loft parties that gave rise to the disco and, later, house music movements. In 1972 he discovered an obscure track by Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango that went on to be one of the most genre defining tracks of the disco and funk genres, and was widely sampled in many later hits.
Rod Temperton 66 – musician with the UK funk band ‘Heatwave’, but also writer for so many iconic dance tracks including, among many others, ‘Thriller’, ‘Rock With You’, ‘Off the Wall’, ‘Stomp!’, ‘Give Me The Night’, ‘Razzamatazz’, and ‘Yah Mo B There’.
Leonard Cohen 82 – visionary songwriter and poet.
George Martin 90 – the man who brought the Beatles to the mainstream, but was also responsible for so many hit tunes by other artists, some you would never guess!
Prince Buster 79 – Jamaican ska pioneer.
Scotty Moore 84 – guitarist from Elvis’ original backing band ‘The Blue Moon Boys’, and who played with Elvis throughout his career.
Bobby Vee 73 – clean cut American pop idol of the 60s, whose break at 15 came as a last minute stand in at a scheduled concert by Buddy Holly, who had just died in an air crash, simply because he knew all the words.
Lee Andrews 79 – leader of 50s doo wop group ‘Lee Andrews & The Hearts’ (and father of Khalib Thompson of the highly influential hip hop band The Roots).
Sharon Jones 60 – ‘The Godmother of Soul’. Big voiced soul revival singer with ‘The Dap Kings’.
Merle Haggard 79 – country music icon. You don’t know country if you don’t know the words to all of Merle Haggard’s songs.
Black (Colin Vearncombe) 53 – 80s English singer-songwriter.
Maurice White 74 – founder of disco funk giants ‘Earth, Wind & Fire’.
Greg Lake 69 – founding member of ‘Emerson, Lake and Palmer’ and pioneer of the progressive rock genre.